Drop ‘terrorism’ charges against ex-PM Imran Khan: Pakistan court

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High court orders removal of ‘terrorism’ charges against the former prime minister, says his defence lawyer.

Islamabad, Pakistan – A court in Pakistan has ordered that ‘terrorism’ charges against former Prime Minister Imran Khan for his remarks against a female judge and senior police officials be dropped.

The Islamabad High Court on Monday said Khan’s comments did not attract charges under Pakistan’s harsh ‘Anti-Terrorism’ Act, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and even capital punishment.

Khan, 69, was charged with ‘terrorism’ for remarks made at a public rally in Islamabad on August 20 against police officials and a female judge who had ordered the arrest of one of his top aides, Shahbaz Gill.

In his speech, the head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, had allegedly threatened “action” by taking legal recourse against top Islamabad police officials and Judge Zeba Chaudhry, who had approved Gill’s two-day detention.

The cricketing icon-turned-politician denied he threatened the officials in his speech, saying his words were taken out of context.

On Monday, a two-member bench led by Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court Athar Minallah heard the case, in which Khan had already been granted interim bail till September 20.

Prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbasi told the court the police investigation found that Khan’s remarks were “threatening” and thus ‘terrorism’ charges were applicable on the opposition politician.

However, defence lawyer Salman Safdar argued that Khan’s statements were about taking legal action against the female judge and the police officials.

Safdar told Al Jazeera that “ideally, whole case should have been quashed”.

He said that Khan does not have to appear in the ‘anti-terrorism’ court tomorrow (Tuesday) since the ‘terrorism’ charges are no longer applicable and matter will be transferred to the court with relevant jurisdiction.

“Frankly, it appears that the case is pretty much done and over with. The mala fide intent of prosecution has been exposed with this order and the case is utterly spineless now,” Safdar said.

Khan’s government was removed through a parliamentary vote of no-confidence in April this year.

Since then, he has been holding public rallies across the country, demanding fresh elections, which are otherwise due late next year.

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